Hands up if you’ve ever been confused or frustrated about exactly what you should be eating in order to be the healthiest possible you (*raises hand*). There is so much dietary and nutritional advice out there – and so much of it is contradictory. One day we’re told to eat more dairy, the next we’re told we should be limiting dairy; one study shows how beneficial whole grains can be whilst another claims grains shouldn’t be eaten at all. It makes it incredibly hard to know what you should be eating to maintain a healthy diet.
One constant however that is agreed upon across nearly every dietary study and theory is that we should be eating vegetables – and lots of them!
There are many benefits we can expect from eating more benefits, including
- Vegetables are high in fiber, which is great for digestive health. As 70% of your immune system lies within the digestive system, this is important in enabling your body to effectively fight colds and infections
- High fiber diets are also great at controlling blood sugar levels and weight management
- Most vegetables are high in antioxidants, which can neutralise the effect of free radicals, therefore reducing the risk of certain diseases such as heart disease and some cancers
- Leafy greens are great for bone health being high in calcium and magnesium, which helps bones to absorb the calcium
- Vegetables such as sweet potatoes, tomatoes and spinach are high in potassium, which can assist in lowering blood pressure
- Vitamin A rich vegetables such as sweet potato, carrots, and dark leafy greens can assist with giving you glowing skin
- Capsicum (peppers), leafy greens, and broccoli are high in vitamin C which helps to heal wounds and reduces the severity of cold symptoms. Eating vitamin C rich food also helps with the absorption of iron – great for those following a vegan or vegetarian diet
- Vegetables are nutritionally dense but low in calories, which makes it very hard to over eat them!
- A diet high in vegetables can increase energy levels
- They don’t cost much – especially if you grow them yourself
- Vegetables are insanely cool and eating more of them will give you instant street cred
Okay – so I may have made that last one up. But in all seriousness, vegetables are superstar ingredients – the original superfoods without the glossy packaging and marketing, they are cheap, accessible and can be prepared easily, quickly and deliciously with the right know-how.
Over the past few months I have been trying to up my intake of vegetables and I am constantly on the hunt for new ways to include more vegetables in my diet. I have been experimenting with a lot of dishes of my own, but I have also come across so many amazing, creative recipes on other food blogs and I wanted to compile them all in the one place to hopefully inspire some of you to get in the kitchen and start creating some healthy veggie-inspired meals of your own.
I have compiled three posts which I’ll release over the next week or two, so make sure to check back here for the next two installments.
Today, we’re looking at how you can include more vegetables in my favorite meal of the day – breakfast.
Vegetables can be cooked (steamed or baked) and then mashed or pureed and added to both sweet or savoury pancake batter.
They can also bee added in raw – puree first in a high-speed blender, or finely grate some raw vegetables into your pancake batter (I use this grater when adding vegetables to sweet pancake batter – it creates super fine threads which almost dissolve into the pancakes when cooked – perfect for hiding some additional veggies in the meals of little fussy eaters!)
Green smoothie pancakes (pictured) (df) – to her core
Carrot cake pancakes (pictured) (vg, gf, df) – Jessica Cox
Beet blackberry pancakes – Young Austinian
Mini zucchini bread pancakes (gf, df) – An Edible Perspective
Smoothies and smoothie bowls
A smoothie is a great option for a weekday meal before school or work – they come together in minutes which is great for those of us short on time in the mornings. The internet is abundant with green smoothie recipes these days, however you can try other vegetables as well. If you’re new to putting vegetables in smoothies, I suggest you start out by adding a handful of washed baby spinach to your favorite sweet (fruity) smoothie, as it’s quite subtle and although your smoothie will go green, you wont be able to notice any difference in taste. Once you get used to the colour start experimenting a little – pumpkin, sweet potato, beetroot and carrot all make great additions. Vegetables can be added in raw if you have a high-powered blender, or otherwise steam or roast them in bulk beforehand and then freeze.
Chocolate beetroot smoothie (pictured) (vg, p, gf, df) – to her core
Pumpkin gingerbread smoothie (vg, p, gf, df) – Eating Bird Food
Vegan blueberry & cucumber smoothie (vg, p, gf, df) – the Honour System
Vegan carrot cake smoothie (vg, gf, df) – Coconut and Berries
Stripped green smoothie bowl (pictured) (vg, p, gf, df) – Nutrition Stripped
Green smoothie breakfast bowl (vg, df) – to her core
Purple love superfood smoothie bowl (vg, df) – the Body Book
Kale and Blackcurrant smoothie bowl (vg, p, gf, df) – the Smoothie Lover
Try adding some vegetables to your morning oat dish. Mix some mashed pumpkin or sweet potato through your homemade muesli/granola batter before baking. Flecks of zucchini or carrot will melt into a creamy bowl of porridge, or add carrots or pumpkin to any baked dish – think deliciously creamy porridge, baked in the oven with a crisp, caramelised top – you wont even notice that you are eating veggies!
Pumpkin granola (pictured) (vg, df) – to her core
Zucchini bread oatmeal (vg, df) – Oh She Glows
Pumpkin-baked oatmeal (pictured) (vg, df) – Chocolate Covered Katie
Baked carrot cake oatmeal (vg, df) – Goodness Green
Baked egg dishes
Baked eggs are a great way to start the day, especially when you have a little more time in the mornings. I am a huge fan of shakshuka, which is a traditional middle-eastern dish of eggs poached in a tomato mixture. Feel free to get adventurous with this by adding in different vegetables to the mixture in which the vegetables are poached. Eggy bakes such as quiche and frittatas also make wonderful breakfast meals, and are a great way to use up any leftover vegetables from the previous nights dinner.
Veggie quiche tartlette (gf) – The Whole Family’s Food
Savoury veggie buckwheat bake (gf, df) – Edible Perspective
Baby spinach frittata with sweet potato hash crust (gf) – Cookie and Kate
Shakshuka (baked eggs) (p, gf, df) – to her core
Green shakshouka with smoky soka bread (gf, df) – Dolly and Oatmeal
Other savoury dishes
Breakfast hash with fried tofu egg (vg) – Cookbook Aficionado
Sweet Potato Hash (p, gf, df) – A Couple Cooks
High protein vegan breakfast burrito (vg, gf, df) – Oh She Glows
Broccoli and egg breakfast wrap (p, gf, df) – Jessica Sepel
Greens + eggs breakfast bowl with dukkah (pictured) (p, gf, df) – to her core
Mexican Paleo superbowl (pictured) (p, gf, df)- Honey & Figs
Asparagus tofu scramble (vg, gf) – Vegan Richa
So there you have my favorite ways to include vegetables in your morning meal, as well as some of my favorite recipes. Do you often include vegetables in your breakfast meal? What’s your favorite way to eat them in the mornings? Feel free to add any comments below.
Also, keep an eye out for the next two installments of this series which will showcase some great ways to include more vegetables in your main meals, sweets and snacks.
All recipes are vegetarian. Additional dietary requirements outlined in brackets above are –
Vegan (vg); Paleo (p); Gluten Free (gf); Dairy Free (df)
Note that some recipes may not strictly adhere to these requirements, but will list alternatives to substitute/omit within the recipe.